Bakersfield police officer dies after crash during pursuit

A Bakersfield police officer died early Friday after he crashed into a wall during a vehicle pursuit, officials said.

Two other officers reached Officer David Nelson, 26, in his burning police cruiser about 2:40 a.m. and pulled him from the wreckage just before flames spread to the passenger compartment, according to Bakersfield police Sgt. Joe Grubbs. He was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he died.


FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this post included an incorrect phone number for the Bakersfield police tip line.


California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris offered condolences to Nelson's family, saying he "bravely gave his life in service of his community and the state of California."

"On behalf of the California Department of Justice, I extend my deepest sympathies to his family, his loved ones, and the entire Bakersfield Police Department," she said. "The state of California and our law enforcement family will be forever grateful for his dedicated service.” 

Now police and the California Highway Patrol are looking for the vehicle that Nelson had been following. No one has been arrested in connection with the pursuit.

Nelson stopped the car, described as a silver Hyundai with no license plates, at 2:37 a.m.

He sounded out of breath when he radioed police dispatchers and told them that he was pursuing the Hyundai.

Seconds later, dispatchers lost contact with him.

Nelson had been a Bakersfield officer for two years.

Police dispatcher Alison Webb said the department "lost more than just an officer."

"A mother and father lost their son, too young to have been taken," she said. "A best friend is figuring out how to move forward without someone who's always been there. Fellow officers lost a brother who understood them more than anyone ever could. And the community is now without one damn good police officer."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Bakersfield police tip line at (661) 852-7800.

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